Before the American Civil Rights Act of 1964, before Cassius Clay became the champion, before he became Muhammad Ali, two titans of showmanship crossed paths on The Jack Paar show. It was November 29th, 1963, a date which perhaps goes down in history as the birthplace of a genre.
Liberace and Muhammad Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, were both guests on the show. The pair did two impromptu performances in which Liberace followed on the piano, as the undeniably lyrically talented young fighter recited a new twist on the beat poetry of the time. In the result we see what is perhaps the birth of of the music genre now known as spoken word.
The second performance is especially of note, as it does not seem to have been planned at all. We even hear Liberace say to Ali, “Well, you speak and I’ll play along.” The two became friends who crossed paths many times.
We at the Liberace Foundation were saddened to hear of the passing yesterday of Muhammad Ali. We offer our condolences to his lovely daughter Leila and all of the family and friends of the champion who was, in more ways than one, the greatest of all time.